Posted in children's fiction, young adult

Favourite Books Of The Year | 2016

It’s the end of another year which means it’s once again time for me to discuss my favourite reads of the past twelve months. 2016 has been a very interesting reading experience for me as I decided to start being a tad more honest with my ratings and if I wasn’t enjoying a book, then I simply tossed it aside rather than forcing myself to finish in an attempt to get one step closer to achieving my Goodreads target. So, without further ado, here are the stand out books for the year of 2016.

Gabriel And The Swallows by Esther Dalseno 

 

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Gabriel and The Swallows follows a boy who stumbles across an injured bird and takes it home in the hopes that he can save its life, only to discover that the creature is in fact not a bird… but a girl with swallows wings. This book is a slow read, taking place over many years but it’s such a beautiful story. It’s very much in the realm of magical realism and explores the friendship between the protagonist and this remarkable creature that fell into his life. It’s been a very, very long time since a book affected me so much at the end that I just sat there sobbing. I honestly cannot put into words just how outstanding the contents of this book are.

My full review can be found here and I also went to the launch event for this book which can be found here.
Inherited by Freedom Matthews 

 

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Inherited by Freedom Matthews tells the story of a group of people on a pirate ship, cursed with the inability to love:  If they were to confess love for another, that person would die. Together, the crew search for the remaining heirs to the curse and aim to track down the sorceress that put the curse on their parents and get her to change her mind.

Frankly, we don’t have enough pirate books and it was so refreshing to read this book. What I love the most about this story is that because the majority takes place on a ship, where the characters have no real place to escape to, it’s easy to get boring, but Freedom manages to keep it interesting, introducing new ideas and backstories through dialogue.

My full review of this book can be found here.
Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

 

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Set in the desert nation of Miragi, mortals rule and mystical beast roam free. Amani wants nothing more than to leave her dead-end town and when a shooting competition arises offering prize money larger enough to fund her escape, she disguises as a boy to take part. There’s a Sultan’s army, magic, a fantastic protagonist, vivid imagery and a growing rebellion.

I became very disheartened with Young Adult Fiction this year; an awful lot of the books I was excited for let me down. I was close to turning my back completely on the age range but Rebel of the Sands was utterly fantastic and proved to me that there’s still hope for good books in Young Adult.

My full review can be found here.

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

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Am I Normal Yet? Follows Evie who was recently hospitalised for her eating disorder. Starting at a new college where nobody knows her “secret” she wants nothing more than to be normal. She meets Amber and Lottie and together they create The Spinster Club dedicated to reclaiming their womanhood. This was a very difficult read for me as it deals heavily with anxiety disorder but the really good thing about this book is it doesn’t sugarcoat. It shows just hard it is to live with mental illness and I hope will generate a platform where readers learn about what it’s like to be in that mindset and how to help someone they may know who deals with these experiences on a daily basis.

My full review can be found here.

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher 

 

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As the first full length novel from Children’s writer Tom Fletcher, The Christmasaurus tells the story of wheelchair user William who wants nothing more than a pet dinosaur for Christmas and it just so happens that a dinosaur egg has been found at the North Pole. It’s a wonderful adventure that takes place one Christmas Eve. This book is hilarious, festive, and heart-warming, accompanied by wonderful illustrations.

It’s also great that Tom included a wheelchair user as his protagonist because representation is so important, especially when your audience is children.

My full review can be found here

So there we have it!
What were some of your favourite reads?

I will be back in the new year with many more reviews.

– Charlotte

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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Posted in fantasy, review, romance

Gabriel And The Swallows – Esther Dalseno

“I see just a little girl. A girl who happens to have swallows wings.”

 

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Blurb:

“A lonely farm boy.
A girl with swallow’s wings.
An ancient city buried in a volcano.
A mystery old as blood and bone.

There is more to Gabriel than the life he’s ashamed of – the son of peasant winemakers, bullied relentlessly on account of his disabled mother. For Gabriel has a secret: the elaborate dream world he descends into at night – a grandiose, vivid existence – is becoming more real than his waking life.
Everything changes for Gabriel when he rescues a wounded creature – a miraculous girl with swallow’s wings – from the voracious pursuit of Alfio Gallo, a dangerous old enemy. 
Wrestling with manhood whilst beckoned by ancient rites and foreign lands, Gabriel is about to make a deadly decision that changes the course of life as he knows it…as long as he can decide which reality he’s in.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The story follows Gabriel, a young peasant boy who lives on a vineyard in Italy where his father works too hard and his mother has some quirks. Gabriel experiences strange dreams that seem to mirror life and often leave him confused between what is the dream and what is reality. One day, Gabriel brings home an injured creature covered in blood. He soon discovers that what he found is in fact a girl with swallow wings. His mother becomes very worried and locks herself away, believing the girl has been created by God or the devil.

Alfio Gallo, a dangerous enemy from another farm, comes asking about a falcon he shot down that he thinks landed on their property. Gabriel manages to make him leave without seeing the girl. As time passes, it becomes too risky for Volatile (the swallow girl) to stay and she decides to leave, promising she will return in time for Carnevale, a grand masked European tradition.

That’s as much in terms of plot as I can give you without really spoiling it for you, and the beauty really is in the discovery.

One thing I really liked about this book was the setting. Through the elegant descriptions given, it just seemed like a beautiful, tranquil place to be, I felt like I was really there. I’ve never read a book set in Italy before so on a personal level that was a nice touch.

This book gave me serious Ava Lavender vibes. While Gabriel And The Swallows has fantasy elements to it, the story is very slow. But this is in no way whatsoever a bad thing. Gabriel is a boy who lives a perfectly normal life, despite having this strange girl hiding away in his home. He gets bullied, had failed relationships, goes to college. Volatile is just an interesting secret part.  While she does consume a lot of his thoughts, the story isn’t entirely centred on what goes on with her and them as a pair.

A character that really stood out for me was Orlando Khan. His friendship was beautiful to witness, especially when Gabriel tries to explain that his mother is “basically retarded” and Orlando just shrugs it off like it isn’t a big deal. That’s a true friend right there.

The writing was lyrical; almost like music in the way it swept me off my feet and tugged on my heartstrings.

Apart from Truthwitch, I haven’t been affected by a novel this much in such a long time. I have a feeling this book will stay with me for years to come.

This is the first in a duology.
For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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